How to Make Crab Cakes

Marye Audet
crab cakes

Learning how to make crab cakes is a simple process that almost any cook can master. Crab cake a delicious appetizer, or they can be served as a side dish. Plate them with some parsley a side of homemade tartar sauce.

Tips for Making Crab Cakes

Crab cakes have been well known in the Mid-Atlantic States for centuries. They are traditionally made with lump blue crab, especially in the Chesapeake Bay area. However, crab cakes can be made with any crab that is readily available to you. Although crab cakes made with fresh crab will taste better, you can use canned crab as well. Be aware that sometimes canned crab will have a metallic taste. To solve this problem, just place the crabmeat in a bowl and cover with ice water for about ten minutes. Drain well and continue with the recipe.

Most crab cake recipes will include bread crumbs, cracker crumbs, or some similar ingredient. This helps hold the cakes firmly together as they are cooked. Generally you can substitute cracker crumbs and bread crumbs measure for measure. Chilling the cakes for at least a half hour after you form them will also help them to stay together in the pan.

How to Make Crab Cakes Traditionally

These are the basic, traditional crab cakes that have been served in Southern homes for decades. Add some tartar sauce, a bowl of cole slaw, some fried okra, and cornbread and you will have a great meal.


  • 1 lb lump crab meat, picked over to remove shell
  • 2 slices of white bread, crusts removed and torn in small pieces
  • Milk, just enough to moisten bread
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tbs. mayonnaise
  • 2 tbs. fresh chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 1 tsp. grainy mustard
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Old Bay Seasoning


  1. Place bread in a bowl and moisten with a little milk
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients except the crab
  3. Add crab meat and stir well
  4. Form into eight patties on a baking sheet
  5. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes

When you are ready to cook:

  1. Melt 2 tbs. butter and 2 tbs. olive oil in a skillet
  2. Pan fry until golden brown on both sides

Crab Cakes with Cracker Crumbs

The cracker crumbs in this recipe add buttery flavor.


  • 1 lb. lump crab meat
  • 1/2 cup Ritz crackers, crushed
  • 2 green onions, chopped fine
  • 1/2 cup Bell pepper, chopped fine
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • Juice from half a lemon
  • Oil for frying


  1. In a large bowl mix all the ingredients
  2. Shape into 8 patties
  3. Place on a cookie sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Chill for 30 minutes
  4. Heat a few inches of oil in a pan and place the crab cakes in the hot oil
  5. Fry until golden, about 4 minutes per side

Deep Fried Crab Cakes

While most crab cakes are pan fried or baked some restaurants serve them deep fried. This gives the crab cakes a unique texture.


  • 1 lb. lump crab meat
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp Old Bay seasoning
  • 1 tbs. chopped parsley
  • 1 tbs. baking powder
  • 2 tbs. heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • Oil for deep frying


  1. Combine mayonnaise, egg, seasonings, cream, baking powder, and parsley
  2. Pick through the crab meat and remove any shell fragments
  3. Fold crab meat and Panko into the mayonnaise mixture
  4. Shape into crab cakes and chill for 30 minutes
  5. Preheat oil for 350F
  6. Deep fry the cakes until golden brown

Once you know how to make crab cakes, and have gotten comfortable with the process, you can begin to experiment with different ingredients. Consider adding a few slivers of chipotle or grated lemon peel to the basic crab cake recipe.

Crab cakes make a wonderful lunch, a light dinner, or as part of an appetizer buffet. You can make the cakes smaller or larger as you need to. Once you have begun to make them, crab cakes may become a staple item on your menu.

How to Make Crab Cakes